March 22, 2023



Red State tells the story of three teenage boys lured into a trap by the extremist  Five Points Church.  This eventually leads to a ferocious gun battle with the Church and law enforcement.

Here Kevin Smith has ditched the slacker comedy and turned his attention to the horror genre. And this is a horror story, that’s scarily realistic, not about supernatural monsters but the monsters we live within our everyday life. Drawing much influence from the despicable Westboro Baptist Church (most recently seen picketing the Golden Globes) – the Five Points Church, is even more extreme and just as unlikeable. Red State’s low budget works in its advantage making the whole film feel even more real. However, it’s not just the WBC that need to watch out, Smith also shows us what he thinks of the Government in the film’s very effective ending.

Red State is competently directed and Smith gives the film a stylish flair throughout. However, the film suffers from its writing – it’s generally unclear what’s going on from the police departments side of the story and also feels rather muffled through Abin Cooper’s (Michael Parks) sermons, not really conveying why they’re doing this. Although regardless of this Michael Parks captivates the screen. He’s an actor I’ve been a fan of for a while, so it’s excellent to see him headline a film that will actually get seen. The character is absolutely vile, but Parks charm and wit still come through in the role. Melissa Leo also stars although the character does not feel hugely authentic  and Leo never truly makes a lasting impact on the film.  John Goodman appears and brings some wry humour and as always is a pleasure to watch.

Red State provides a fair amount of shock imagery, in particular a man being cellophaned to giant cross and murdered during one of Cooper’s sermons. The shoot-out scenes are done particularly well, making it entertaining, action-packed viewing. The film does have an incredibly strong message for bigots and on extreme religion and this can be summarised in the last minute of the film in quite a fun scene.

Overall, Red State it’s fairly effective with strong direction from Kevin Smith and a stand out performance from Michael Parks. It’s low budget style and subject of society’s real monsters make it one of the better horror films of the year but at times it can suffer from the unclear script.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Andrew McArthur
Stars: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, Michael Angarano & John Goodman
Director: Kevin Smith
DVD/BR Release: 23/01/12

Originally Posted: Silverscreenslags